This question has nothing to do with whether or not SE wants to fix things or engage with the community, the answers to that are already known: ‘nothing to fix’ and ‘no’. This is about the origins of the discontent with the way the long time veteran community as a whole has been vilified and blamed for the few rate bad actors in the past and used as a scape-goat for whatever the corporate entity has in mind for their future to save their reputation or whatever.


It is not and never has been

It is not, and it is not about Monica either, she is caught in the middle of something, made a public example of as a warning, and all that was completely avoidable regardless of her opinion on the pronouns and the CoC.

It is just the logical backlash against the continuation of the blanket vilification that the Stack Overflow community experienced with the Jay Hanlon blog post, but now applied/implemented against the entire StackExchange of communities.

There are many that are on the autistic spectrum that are probably an inordinate percentage of the technical communities, especially Stack Overflow, and when they get accused of malice when there is none and without any proof in the comments and their flags of abuse are ignored and they are sent curt messages by the moderators handling the flags to suck it up, or that they are mocking someone when they are asking a legit question in all sincerity, it seems like a double standard and hypocrisy at its most egregious cases.

I am done with the abuse here, from the moderation staff, from those that just want to lash out at everyone and accuse everyone of everything implicitly just because that is the popular thing to do right now. And to paraphrase Jay Hanlon,

I know when I am not wanted or appreciated, you know how? Because, you told me so ...

The first 3 or 4 dozen times should have been enough of a message, but then again, those of use that are on the spectrum do not get the hint as easily as others.

And to those that think, good the problem people are self removing themselves, good riddance, I put 10 years into SO, had a huge impact number and never once was abusive to any group. I was vocal when people attacked me or my character in public comments and their comments were allowed to stand because they were part of the cool kids weaponizing the first CoC changes, because well they were better at manipulating language and people to language lawyer their abuse as polite, when one person did comment in my defense that polite abuse is still abuse they got their comment deleted as well. You are losing allies, with no sarcasm, your online paradise you are creating, I hope you get what you want.

This outcome, this place the sites are in, is not unexpected and could be completely predicted and completely avoided.

  • 4
    Hard to tell, since finally communication is still down. I beleieve there have been taken a lot of actions and efforts in response to Jay Henlons blog post, without ever hitting the core problem. Oct 15, 2019 at 17:07
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    @Someone You should better have posted in the regular Q&A format (self answering), instead of suggesting your answer in your question. Oct 15, 2019 at 17:12
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    Perhaps you should change your username to Someone Who Still Cares? Oct 15, 2019 at 17:14
  • my profile should be removed in 24 hours, that will leave me with exactly 0 stackexchange profiles ...
    – user148287
    Oct 15, 2019 at 17:16
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    It won't get removed that fast. Once a week a developer at SE manually verifies accounts such as yours (with sufficient rep) before it gets deleted altogether.
    – dfhwze
    Oct 15, 2019 at 17:24
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  • "I ... never once was abusive to any group" I believe you, but I can tell from my own experience that the culture on SO (for the 7 years I was on it) has actually improved during that time. There were abusive people here (not me or you but others, although we (you and me) can always also still learn something better I guess). Jay Hanlon might started a run in the wrong direction, but he was also on to something, I believe. The aim seems right, but the means to achieve it are questionable and anyway they are not listening to many of us at all. I guess that kind of summarizes it. Oct 16, 2019 at 14:49
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    Since this reads a bit like a farewell message: Good luck. Oct 16, 2019 at 14:49
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    I think that the autism spectrum, regardless of how broad, is something that many of us have direct contact with, and I for one, totally feel for many of those as they definitely fall within a "marginalized group". However, the problem is far broader than such groups. As you put it perfectly: those that just want to lash out at everyone and accuse everyone of everything implicitly just because that is the popular thing to do right now. Yes, and yes. Oct 16, 2019 at 14:52
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    "There are many that are on the autistic spectrum that are probably an inordinate percentage of the technical communities [...] and when they get accused of malice when there is none and without any proof [...] it seems like a double standard and hypocrisy at its most egregious cases." Hear hear. Oct 16, 2019 at 19:08
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    @MonicaCellio I had never really considered the ways in which communication is perceived differently for people on the autistic spectrum, so even if this all turns out badly, at least there’s one important lesson that I’ve learned from this. Hopefully SE also learns it too, and takes it into account in all their future communications.
    – divibisan
    Oct 18, 2019 at 15:48

3 Answers 3


My personal view is that you're right that the backlash isn't really about pronouns or trans people. I would argue that the core of the anger is really about 2 main things:

  1. The view that StackExchange doesn't listen to or care about the community of core users, and
  2. The firing of Monica Cellio and the lack of response to it.

There are definitely people who feel strongly about pronouns specifically, and there are definitely some issues with the specific changes to the CoC (more specifically, the explication of those changes in the FAQ), but I think the degree of anger comes from those 2 points above.

If people felt that SE cared about them and the site and if Monica hadn't been fired, I think identical changes would have gone over much better. And, conversely, I think SE could have made much smaller changes but still gotten a similar response because of the lack of faith and trust in them.

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    My conclusion of this debacle is actually quite positive: I haven't actually read any comments that are disrespectful or hateful to others (at least not purposefully so). So we are apparently a mostly civil community. But maybe those comments are all flagged and deleted quickly? (Which is also good.)
    – BlackShift
    Oct 15, 2019 at 19:02
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    @BlackShift I think both are true. There are definitely some hateful comments, some I’ve seen and some I’ve heard about, despite heroic efforts by a skeleton crew of mods. But I do think that these hateful comments are rare and represent only a small fraction of even the people who are really angry. I’ll try to keep your optimism in mind!
    – divibisan
    Oct 15, 2019 at 19:36
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    I have been mostly impressed with the community. The overwhelming majority simply find what was done to Monica abhorrent, and are attempting to hold SE's feet to the fire about their unprofessional behavior. I would never have predicted the number of mods who resigned on principle. It's heartening, even though I don't think it will result in any change. Oct 16, 2019 at 3:35
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    @BlackShift we are reading different comments then, because I am done with all the assume the worst attacks that accuse people with legimimate questions on how to avoid being the target of weaponization of the CoC being accused of malice and trolling when they have just much right at asking how to avoid being victims, especially when some of us are already protected classes, especially on the technical communities that are on the autistic spectrum and generally try and avoid conflict but get called trolls for asking questions about not being accused of trolling. I am done with this crap.
    – user148287
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:15
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    like I said, Monica is not really the issue, it could have been anyone, Monica is just the lightning rod as she got hit with the weaponization of the CoC in the most public way possible to be an example. The rest of us have been subject to it repeatably in the past in private.
    – user148287
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:26
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    I'm most mad about the licensing. We still haven't had any sort of resolution or worthwhile response to that. Oct 16, 2019 at 14:29
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit - that is just another symptom of the systematic disease that has taken over the corporate culture. It is a petri dish now.
    – user148287
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:36
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit I feel like the rage is moving so quickly that I almost forgot about that whole other issue. It feels like that was years ago, now. I file that as "StackExchange doesn't listen to or care” in my mind.
    – divibisan
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:41
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    It's funny how the article about the new CEO in the business insider paints such a completely different image of the state of the network and the platform and the community. Oct 16, 2019 at 14:53
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    @divibisan If I were just slightly more cynical I'd wonder whether all this was a deliberate distraction from legal issues Oct 16, 2019 at 15:03
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    @Trilarion - that article is the very definition of gas lighting.
    – user148287
    Oct 16, 2019 at 19:05
  • @BlackShift, I saw one comment which was disrepectful, but it was by a community manager so it wasn't likely to be deleted... Although I think the post it was attached to has now been deleted. Oct 16, 2019 at 19:56

We outraged people don't like to be lumped together as if we're all outraged for the same reasons. It just makes some of us angrier. It's like pouring gasoline on the sun. Then our reasons for outrage are even more divergent. It's a vicious cycle. At least one person has already burst into flames. I am not joking.

  • 6
    The vicious cycle needs to be stopped!
    – Stian
    Oct 15, 2019 at 21:09
  • fixed the title, your answer was addressed
    – user148287
    Oct 16, 2019 at 18:48

It is more about the further potential abuse of weaponization of the CoC than anything else.

The irony that an unpublished CoC was weaponized against a moderator because they pointed out that it could be a problem with uniform enforcement and weaponization that they were then proactively removed because of something they might do when the CoC was published and would take effect is not lost on most of us.

If you think this is what the uproar is about, you are just seeing what you want to see and completely ignoring the bigger issue, because the bigger issue is much more nuanced. Your everyone is to blame assertion is kind of the heart of the problem, blank statements of guilt by definition tend to lump the innocent in with the guilty, regardless of how tiny the percentage of guilty there are, which ironically is what was the seed of all the discontent almost 2 years ago, the powers that be are telling everyone they are guilty of being bigots/racists/sexists and that SE enabled them to be, and especially those that think they are not are the worst offenders.2

² If you’re shaking your head thinking, “not me,” I’d encourage you to take these implicit bias tests, specifically the Race IAT and the Gender-Career IAT. If you’re like me, they’re going to hurt.

See, I get it, the I do not see _____ are the the same as the I see ____ and I ignore it. Like Ibrim X Kendi says, (to paraphrase an statement he made in an NPR interview) it is not enough to be not racist, you need to be an anti-racist, and that is to see race, acknowledge it and actively ignore/not consider it.

This last situation is just the final disrespectful straw that many long time community members just could not tolerate in silence anymore. Ironic is it not?

At this point, them acknowledging this and making a real apology is about as likely as Emperor Palpatine apologizing for Order 66 in the up coming Star Wars movie.

  • I really feel like we should avoid extrapolating too much from the horrible way Monica has been treated. Assuming that Monica was fired for questioning the CoC, has nothing to do with how the CoC will be enforced on users since the CoC says nothing about not being able to question it. What SE actually did is probably worse, in fact, and absolutely needs to be fixed and made up for, but I don’t think it tells us anything about how the CoC would be enforced.
    – divibisan
    Oct 18, 2019 at 15:35